Better Call Glew: I Got Busted With Coke. Now What?
This past weekend, my girlfriend and I were out at the bars for a bit of fun. We wanted to keep the fun going past 2 A.M., so we decided to pick up a white energy supplement...and by white energy supplement, I mean cocaine. Shortly after leaving my "friend's" house, I was pulled over. Needless to say, my night did not go as anticipated and I was arrested. My court date is next month; what can expect to face at court on that day and are there any diversion programs to avoid jail?
Well, based on your question, it sounds like you may be in a bit of trouble. Just how much trouble depends on a couple factors. First, I hope you invoked your Miranda rights and did not answer any questions posed by the police when you were arrested. Second, hopefully you bought a small quantity of cocaine and did not have gratuitous cash on you when you were arrested, as this may lead police, and the deputy district attorney who will file the case, to believe that you possessed the cocaine for sales in violation of H&S §11351, possession of cocaine for sale.
For now, I will assume that you have been charged with violating H&S §11350, which is simple possession of cocaine. Now, the court date you asked about is what is called an arraignment. At this hearing, you will advised by the court of your rights and what charges you are facing, and you will enter a plea, either guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere.
In California, there are several alternatives to going to jail for simple drug possession cases. California Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36 are two types of diversion programs that defendants charged with drug possession may be eligible for. To be eligible for P.C. 1000, you must be a first time offender and not have any offenses involving controlled substances, whether simple possession or sales, on your record. In addition, the charged offense must not involve violence; your record must not have any revocation of probation or parole; you must not have any felony convictions within five years prior to the charged offense.
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Most likely, on the day of your arraignment, the prosecution will already have determined whether the program is appropriate for you. If you do choose to enter P.C. 1000, you must plead guilty to the charged offence. However, you will not be sentenced for 18 months, during which time you will be attending your P.C. 1000 courses. If you successfully complete the 18 month program, the case will be dismissed and you will not have a conviction on your record.
Proposition 36, or "Prop 36," is another diversion program option available to you. Prop 36 is generally available for first time offenders of any non-violent simple drug possession or drug use crimes. To be eligible, you must not have any serious or violent felony convictions on your record. However, Prop. 36 may be available if you have a violent felony conviction if you have been out of prison for at least five years with no felony or misdemeanor convictions involving violence for five years.
Further, the crime that you are charged with must be simple possession of a controlled substance, as Prop 36 is not available to anyone charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale. Just as was the case with P.C. 1000, you must plead guilty to the charged offence, take an 18 month course focused on drug treatment, and upon the successful completion of the Prop 36 program, the case will be dismissed and you will not suffer a conviction on your record.
Good luck--and now, cut out the coke!
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